In Justice League: Doom we get a familiar superhero team vs. super villain team story, with a darker twist. When hired by the immortal Vandal Savage, some of the fiercest foes that Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash and Martian Manhunter face, unleash a plan that shakes each of the respective Justice League member to their very cores.
Every superhero has a flaw, or a weakness, and when Savage’s newly-formed ‘Legion of Doom’ comes into detailed intel on how the League members are each vulnerable, they have the perfect means to keep their foes under siege and off-balance, while Savage hatches a second, larger plot – one that could put the entire planet in danger.
Justice League: Doom is a loose adaptation of acclaimed comic book writer Mark Waid’s 2000 miniseries “Tower of Babel,” with a bit of DC Comics’ recent “New 52” Justice League reboot thrown in just for some new flavor. The feature was directed by longtime DC Universe veteran Lauren Montgomery (Wonder Woman, Green Lantern: First Flight), and has the bittersweet honor of being the final work of acclaimed comic book writer/creator Dwayne McDuffie, who wrote most of the original Justice League animated series, and passed away shortly after completing the script for Doom.
The animated feature is a nice, tight, thrilling bit of superhero storytelling – though more like an extended episode of the Justice League animated series than a movie. By contrast, the animation style is less Justice League: The Animated Series and more in line with the recent DC Universe animated features like Batman: Year One. However, in high definition Blu-ray it’s clear why that sleeker, anime-influenced style works better onscreen.
The film also introduces Cyborg, a character who has gained more prominence in modern DC Comics, and was recently positioned as a central focus of the League in DC’s “New 52” universe. If you’re not familiar with Cyborg, he’s pretty cool and is a welcome addition to the animated continuity. Similarly, those who know nothing of the “Tower of Babel” storyline from comics are in for a few nice twists, as well as some themes and ideas about superhero powers and psychology that will make for great geek debates (say, in the comment sections below).
Parents of younger kids should be warned, though: Justice League: Doom is rated PG-13 with good reason. Watching Superman or Batman beating up on villains is one thing; watching Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash and Martian Manhunter being tortured according to their most sensitive vulnerabilities (torments that include things like perpetual incineration and live burial) is another thing entirely. The fight scenes are exciting (as usual), but the majority of the story dips into some pretty dark territory, as it’s mostly scenes of the JLA being tortured in some pretty cruel and twisted ways.
Longtime DC Animation fans will delight to know that Justice League: Doom boasts a voice cast of longtime DCU veterans. The Justice League heroes are each voiced by fan-favorites from the original animated series – Tim Daly (Superman), Kevin Conroy (Batman), Susan Eisenberg (Wonder Woman), Michael Rosenbaum (Flash), Carl Lumbly (Martian Manhunter) – with the welcome new additions of longtime voice actor Bumper Robinson (Cyborg), and hardcore fans’ one and only true Hal Jordan, Nathan Fillion. Even some of the villains in the feature are from the original Justice League animated series: Alexis Denisof as Mirror Master, and Phil Morris as Vandal Savage.
All-in-all, Justice League: Doom has all the components that made the original animated series so great, along with some polished visuals, darker story elements, and the added leeway of a PG-13 rating. Definitely a worthy addition to the collection – and a worthy monument to the genius and imagination of Dwayne McDuffie.
Justice League: Doom will be on DVD/Blu-ray on February 28, 2012. It’s Rated PG-13 for sequences of violent action.
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